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Justices take case on DCS caller confidentiality

September 6, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether the Indiana Department of Child Services may be sued for failing to maintain the confidentiality of a caller who reported suspected child neglect.

Justices last week granted transfer in John Doe #1, et al. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 49S02-1609-CT-464. A divided Court of Appeals panel reversed summary judgment in favor of DCS on a civil tort alleging DCS was negligent in failing to protect the reporting source, which violated I.C. § 31-33-18-2.

Majority judges Robert Altice and James Kirsch held that in the specific circumstances of John Doe #1, the Does established that DCS owed a duty of care to them, and therefore could be the subject of a complaint alleging negligence. Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, writing that the Legislature did not intend to create a private right of action.

Justices took one other negligence case before the Labor Day weekend, granting transfer on the question of whether a woman in a karate class who held a training bag may sue a man whose kick injured her.

Tresa Megenity sued David V. Dunn after she was injured in a karate class. Megenity claimed she was expecting a front kick, but Dunn delivered a kick with a jump, the force of which caused injuries. Dunn won summary judgment at the trial court, but a majority of the Court of Appeals — writing Judge Edward Najam and Judge Melissa May reversed, holding this was an issue of material fact requiring reversal. Judge Patricia Riley dissented and would have affirmed, and would have decided the matter based on the broad scope of karate, rather than whether Dunn’s kick was outside the sport’s reasonable and appropriate conduct.
    
The case is Tresa Megenity v. David V. Dunn, 22S04-1609-CT-465.

Justices denied transfer petitions in 19 cases for the week ending Sept. 2. Transfer dispositions may be viewed here.

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